Weekly Intelligence Notes #22-02
AFIO WIN #22-02 dated 3 June 2002
Weekly Intelligence Notes (WINs) contain intelligence-related notes and commentaries produced, written or edited by Roy Jonkers for non-profit educational uses by AFIO members and WIN subscribers. The reports contain copyright material and may not be disseminated without permission of the producer/editor. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) cited and/or the producer. The perspectives taken are one based on the US national security interests and a long professional view with roots in the WWII period.
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CIA officer (Ret), author
[SEE NO EVIL The True Story of a Ground Soldier
in the CIA's War on Terrorism]
and Ronald Kessler
winner of sixteen journalism awards
[THE BUREAU: The Secret History of the FBI]
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CONTENTS of this WIN
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US LOSING EDGE IN IMAGING SATELLITES -- Pictures from sharp-eyed satellites, once the domain of the United States and Russia, are becoming so easy to obtain that the military may have to alter its strategies knowing adversaries with a minimum of know-how and money can be watching. Perhaps a half-dozen countries as well as some private companies have reconnaissance satellites that, while not as good as those used by the United States, are able to supply solid military intelligence. "The unique spaceborne advantage that the U.S. has enjoyed over the past few decades is eroding as more countries ˆ including China and India ˆ field increasingly sophisticated reconnaissance satellites," CIA Director George J. Tenet said in a recent Senate hearing. "Foreign military, intelligence and terrorist organizations are exploiting this ˆ along with commercially available navigation and communications services ˆ to enhance the planning and conduct of their operations."
The latest advances in foreign countries are largely the result of their research rather than technology purchases or espionage, experts said. The United States pioneered much of the technology; now, other countries are replicating it. That means the military will have to practice the same "denial and deception" techniques adversaries have used to avoid detection by U.S. reconnaissance. Tanks are camouflaged under trees. Secret projects are hidden in buildings when a reconnaissance satellite is overhead.
During the first months of the Afghan war, the United States simply bought exclusive access to the right parts of the orbit of the Ikonos satellite, then the best commercial satellite in the skies. This prevented anyone else from having a look at Afghanistan, and the U.S. company that runs Ikonos, Space Imaging Inc., was happy to sell. It's unclear if the U.S. government will do that in future wars. While it can exercise "shutter control" over U.S.-owned satellites, foreign-owned satellites are under no such restriction. Foreign companies also may not want to sell imagery solely to the Americans. Jamming or destruction of satellites are obvious options. (Jonkers) (WashPost 9Ap02 /J. Lumpkin)
PRESIDENT's BRIEFING -- Every weekday from 8 to 9 a.m. in the Oval Office when President Bush is at the White House, the hour is taken up with CIA and FBI briefers delivering overnight national security updates on foreign intelligence and domestic terrorism. CIA Director George J. Tenet and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III are normally there, as are Vice President Cheney, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. The Attorney General, John D. Ashcroft, is also sometimes there.
The CIA briefing in the first half-hour is a compilation of that day's most significant national security intelligence, called the President's Daily Brief (PDB), now reduced to about 7 or 8 pages. The CIA briefer goes over the items -- foreign politics, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, etc., always spiced up with raw intelligence reports and intercepts, and on occasion, videos or pictures. When the CIA portion is completed, the briefer leaves and the FBI briefer enters and provides the bureau's paper.
Before Sept. 11, the morning Oval Office national security meeting focused almost entirely on foreign intelligence. Now, the addition of the FBI director and the homeland security director has created what National Security Advisor Rice has described as a fusion of foreign and domestic terrorism-related intelligence. "Every morning now the Director of the FBI and the Director of Central Intelligence, as well as the National Security Adviser, the Homeland Security Director, the President and the Vice President sit in the same room to try and do this," she said on ABC's "This Week."
When the CIA briefer returns to headquarters, around mid-morning, he or she meets with the CIA analysts who have collected requests made that morning by Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, after their separate, individual agency briefings on the PDB. The accumulated responses generated by that day's PDB thus serve as a tasking document for the entire Intelligence Community.
For the CIA, the PDB serves as a virtual umbilical cord linking the agency directly to the president and providing the symbol of its position as the nation's premier intelligence agency.
Under former President Bill Clinton, the PDB ran around 12 pages and often included detailed analyses as well as new information that the former President generally read before the briefing. Indeed, in the early days, he often had little use for the follow-up oral briefings offered by the CIA -- a trait that exacerbated tensions between the White House and Langley. President Clinton often criticized the PBD, saying that most days the PDB contained material he had already read elsewhere. One effect of that view was that he allowed the PDB to be distributed more widely within the White House than any previous president.
One of President Bush's first moves was to sharply limit PDBs to his top Cabinet members and White House aides. Under President Bush the PDB has become shorter, a seven-to-10-page document containing "more targeted hard intelligence" items, with few longer than a page.
The super-secret PDB recently emerged in the public eye with the allegation that President Bush was informed by the Aug. 6 PDB that terrorists associated with Osama bin Laden might try to hijack an airplane. The Aug 6 analysis came in response to President Bush's request last July for more information about bin Laden's interest in attacking the United States.
From what can be said about this 6 August PDB item, it emerges that it was primarily a historical analysis that talked about bin Laden's methods of operation and mentioned events in 1997, 1998 and 2001. One mention of hijacking was in reference to a proposed plot to take over an airliner and demand the release of an al Qaeda operative, or of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence for plotting to blow up the Holland and Lincoln tunnels in New York in 1993. It also discussed bombings such as those in 1998 at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Without the actual text, critique is difficult, except what one can say about intelligence briefings in general-- not always the greatest in terms of clearly actionable items.
One irony about the public flap over the Aug. 6 PDB item is that it has highlighted a long-standing argument about the CIA's determination to keep all PDBs from being turned over to anyone not on its distribution list, including Congress. There is practically no chance that the Bush White House will turn over the Aug. 6 item from the PDB to congressional investigators. For many reasons, that appears to be solidly in the public good. (Jonkers) (Wash. Post
24 May 2002, pg. 33 //W. Pincus)
DIA ANALYST CALLED IT FIVE YEARS AGO. A1997 essay for Studies in Intelligence written by Russ Travers, a DIA analyst, offered a critique of American intelligence presciently titled "The Coming Intelligence Failure." He found fault with the Executive and Legislative branches in addition to the intelligence community. His thoughts have been repeated favorably by one widely-published commentator and seem particularly appropriate at this time of "who can we blame other than ourselves?" and "In case of doubt, reorganize." running rampant through the media, Congressional motor-mouths and some Washington policymakers.
Executive Branch. Travers suggested that US national security policy had been more reactive than anticipatory: "Any attempt to program resources according to consumer needs is a recipe for getting whipsawed from crisis to crisis and cannot be sustained."
Legislative Branch. Congress, according to Travers, also "will bear some responsibility for our forthcoming intelligence failure," writing four years before 9/11. He cited the congressional push for a division of labor in the IC which has "significantly diminished competitive analysis (of data) within the Community and should, therefore be seen as an acceptance of increased risk." He added, "By operating under the premise we can divide intelligence analysis into military, economic and political subcomponents and then parcel out discrete responsibilities to various agencies, we are sowing the seeds for inevitable mistakes." This "artificial distinction" had not existed before, Travers noted, and "we are setting ourselves up to do bad political, economic and military analysis; by implication, support to all our consumers is going to get worse."
Intelligence Community. "A combination of bureaucratic politics and self-inflicted wounds within the IC will prove critical factors responsible for our failure," Travers wrote. (Harvey) (Townhall.Com, 21 May '02 //C. Thomas)
ISR--AND TEDIUM--OFF SOMALIA'S COAST. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) work being performed off the one thousand mile coast of Somalia has attracted little media attention, at least in part because there is not much to report. Concerned that fleeing al Qaeda terrorists could seek to migrate to the failed state of Somalia as they flee from Afghanistan, the coalition the US is leading in the war on terrorists has been conducting naval reconnaissance patrols during daylight hours. In an effort to prevent the al Qaeda from finding a safe haven in Somalia, the Defense Department is working with Germany, Britain, France, and Spain military forces, including aircraft as well as ships patrolling around the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Aden and south to the Kenyan border. The patrolling forces close on the detected ships and craft to identify them by name to send the information to the US Fifth Fleet Headquarters in Bahrain and to board the ships if necessary. The data then becomes part of the intelligence database for the war on terrorism. As far as is known, no terrorists have been intercepted to date. The Germans have the southern leg of the reconnaissance, operating out of Kenya, while the British are flying two planes out of Mombasa as well. Farther north, in Djibouti, American forces are working along with allies from France, Spain and Germany over the Gulf of Aden. The waters off Somalia being patrolled for terrorists are not new to illegal activities, having been known as a prime route for traffickers in drugs, weapons and illegal immigrants in the past. Whether al Qaeda operatives have slipped into Somalia before the patrols were established or by penetrating the screening forces is not known. "We just don't know the extent of the presence and activity [in Somalia] at this point," Michael Westphal, the new Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs has said. While details of patrolling actions of the dozens of ships and aircraft are classified, it is known that the coalition forces are spread so thin they are unlikely to detect every attempted penetration but do serve as a deterrence. While the boredom and tedium associated with this ISR campaign are not exactly what Beltway folk have in mind when they use the currently-fashionable "ISR" appellation, it certainly is not unique intelligence-related activity in this or any war.
(Harvey) (NY Times 2 Apr '02 // M. Lacey; Pacific Stars and Stripes 4 Apr '02 // Lisa Burgess)
INTERNATIONAL NEWS WEB ACCESS OPENED IN CHINA -- Long-standing blocks on the Web sites of several Western news organizations have been lifted. The sites are freely accessible through local Internet connections in Beijing and Shanghai on 16 May. There was no official announcement explaining why normally censored Web sites, including those of Reuters, CNN, and the Washington Post, were unexpectedly opened. (Levine 5/17)
National Reconnaissance Office: http://www.nro.gov/
National Imagery and Mapping Agency: http://www.nima.mil/
Space Imaging, Inc.: http://www.spaceimaging.com/
Digital Globe: http://www.digitalglobe.com/
ANNUAL POLYGRAPH REPORT PUBLISHED -- The Department of Defense HAS released its Annual Polygraph Report for 2001, reaffirming the Department's commitment to polygraph testing as an instrument of counterintelligence and criminal investigations as well as for security screening. The Report provides a fresh set of anecdotes in which polygraph tests helped resolve criminal cases or uncover security violations, and sets forth an ambitious research program intended to bolster the technology's widely disputed credibility. (Secrecy News No. 47 dtd 24 May 02 //S. Aftergood) (http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/polygraph/dod-2001.html ) (http://www.antipolygraph.org/ )
PENTAGON REPORTS ON SECRET 1960s BIO EXPERIMENTS -- The Defense Department disclosed this week that it had conducted experiments involving the use of active nerve agents and biological toxins on military personnel in the 1960s in order to study U.S. vulnerabilities to such substances. "Project SHAD, an acronym for Shipboard Hazard and Defense, was part of the joint service chemical and biological warfare test program conducted during the 1960s. Project SHAD encompassed tests designed to identify US warships' vulnerabilities to attacks with chemical or biological warfare agents and to develop procedures to respond to such attacks while maintaining a war-fighting capability," according to the Defense Department. (Secrecy News No. 47)
BIAS: A CBS INSIDER EXPOSES HOW THE MEDIA DISTORTS THE NEWS, by Bernard Goldberg, 2001. Not an intelligence book, but a book that is advertised as shedding light on bias in media reporting, which, in itself, is no great revelation. But since it is difficult enough to conduct an open-minded rational discussion or analysis of international (and some national) issues these days, with so many subjects taboo or arousing all kinds of partisan, ideological or religious extremists, a discussion of at least one set of biases is not irrelevant to intelligence. In "Bias," Goldberg is said to show:
** how media bias has twisted the facts of some of the biggest stories of the last two decades (those of us who served in Vietnam know all about that);
** how the news is knowingly "manufactured," and why certain key facts are omitted from some news stories if they make a case or a cause seem less compelling (ditto);
** a behind-the-cameras tour to witness scenes of jaw-dropping arrogance and "spin-cycle" journalism.
The book has been on the NYT best-seller list. (unread / Jonkers) (courtesy C. Griffith)
ETHICAL ASPECTS OF INTELLIGENCE - SOURCES SOUGHT: "I am an Air Force intelligence officer and philosopher working on a textbook for professionals designed to be a primer on the ethical aspects of intelligence operations. If anyone has any recommendations for source texts and articles that they could forward to me, I'd be appreciative. More importantly, part of the text will consist of case studies in intelligence ethics. If anyone has any stories or experiences they would care to share regarding ethical tensions felt while collecting, analyzing, and distributing intelligence, this would help me flesh out that section realistically; the experiences can range from the mundane to extraordinary, as the text will cover the broad range of moral issues that arise for intelligence practitioners. Thanks very much!" You can contact him at William.email@example.com, or address letters to Major (USAF) William D. Casebeer, HQ USAFA/DFPY, 2354 Fairchild Drive Suite 1A10, US Air Force Academy, CO 80840.
LOOKING FOR SARKIS SOGHANALIAN: "I am a free lance writer, working in conjunction with an AFIO member, who is seeking any information on Sarkis Soghanalian, and the recently deceased William (Bill Ellis). I have permission from Mr. Ellis' widow to gather this information. I would particularly like information about his early days, and his association with Saddam Hussein. I am also a member of AFIO. Thank you, all replies will be held in close confidentiality. Please respond either by email at EditInk500@aol.com or to: 305-926-3650."
INTELLIGENCE EXPERT SOUGHT AS MASTER'S DEGREE ADVISOR: "I am currently a graduate student through the McgGregor School of Antioch University. The Master's degree program is individualized, meaning I work with advisors to design my own curriculum. I was hoping to be able to use a former intelligence officer as a resource and perhaps as an advisor. I live in southwest Washington State and am looking to find someone here in the Northwest to work with. Would you be able to help me in this search? Thank you very much." Replies to: Donegal Fergus at firstname.lastname@example.org
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